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Magic treatment boxes: Women's quest for perfect hair has caused significant changes in Brazil's local industry.


por_favor ve Se me escuta
se voce fez escova,
ve se leva o guarda-chuva
Eu nao to de cao,
gata nao to de gracinha
Sc voce fez implame, alisante on chapinha
tome muito cuidado
sabe o que clue aconteceu?
Ih, choveu cabelo encolheu"

(from the song "Chapinha." by Mc Frank) So you didn't understand anything? Don't worry about it.The lyrics above are terrible, both in form as well as content. And believe it or not, when accompanied by the music (that horrible beat known around here as "Rio funk"), it gets even worse. But, in case you're curious, here is a translation (a loose one since the original lyrics are loaded with untranslatable local slang):
"For all those babes present
please be sure you listen
if you had your hair straightened with dryer and brush,
remember to take your umbrella
I'm not being a dog,
babe I'm not playing around
if you had any implant, straightening or used a flat
iron be very careful
you know what happened?
Oh, it rained and the hair shrank"

If, while on one hand this concern for hair cannot be considered something exclusive to the Brazilian woman, on the other hand it is almost impossible to find a country where such care reaches the obsessive levels it does in Brazil. In 2008, the Brazilian hair product market was ranked second in the world, with a 10.7% share. Here, R$18.50 of every RS100 that is spent on personal care and beauty products, is spent on hair care. Therefore it is no wonder that the flat iron has gone from being a mere instrument for hair care to becoming an everyday term that is now so well known that it is even being used as a popular song title.

In reality, there are several reasons for this local fever.And none of them are very surprising. To begin with, we have the Brazilian's ethnic makeup, which is varied and a mixture of the most diverse blends. In a survey released by L'Oreal in 2010, this is a country where it is possible to find seven of the eight types of hair that exist in the world.

Furthermore, the majority of Brazilian women "unfortunately" have hair that does not conform to today's global standard of beauty. According to data from the Brazilian Association of Personal Care, Fragrance and Cosmetics (ABIHPEC), 60% of Brazilian women have wavy hair when, as we all know, the "rule" states that the straighter the better. And it is undeniable that we live in times where we are becoming increasingly less resistant to global trends and pressure, no matter how hard we try to prove otherwise.

Three more ingredients complete the recipe. The first is that, in contrast to other countries, around here "perfect hair" is not only straight, but also long. In other words: more and more hours at the hairdresser, and more and more money spent on products. Money that, with the recent expansion of the Brazilian middle class and its purchasing power, is not as scarce as it was a decade ago.


Finally, the country's already distant history of slavery can still be felt at times. For example, it was indirectly responsible for the emergence of the popular definition of "bad hair" when referring to any hair with visible traces of African-American ascendancy.And, although recent decades have dragged such prejudice-filled terms into obscurity, in practice, there has been no great change in the behavior of Brazilian women. Curly hair is "bad" hair in the opinion of most, whether they are authorized to assume this or not. According to a recent survey by local beauty giant Natura, 40% of those surveyed used some sort of chemical straightening process on their hair. When added to the percentage of women who periodically straighten their hair with hair-dryers and electric brushes, we come up with a group in excess of 50%. And the hair doesn't have to be all that curly. That becomes clear in the following statement: "My hair is straight, but its not perfect. I like to use a flat iron because that way it looks perfect." Get it? If the hair does not form a perfectly straight line, then forget it: "It's not perfect:'

All you need to do is take a look at the two biggest segments of the Brazilian hair, care market to eliminate any remaining doubt.At the top of the list is damaged hair, closely followed by products that promise some sort of "straightening effect"--through their use or continued treatment at the hairdresser. And, if we think that damaged hair has been damaged because of excessively aggressive or constant treatments, we go right back to straightening processes.

Changes in the Local Industry

The results of this scenario are not only restricted to the terrible song about straightened hair that forms the introduction to this article. It has been causing significant changes in the local industry.Today, Brazil is responsible for one fifth (20.6%) of the world market for conditioner. It was in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro that "Escova Progressiva" emerged--a hair straightening technique that has been successfully exported to other countries, often under various names, with some of them making reference to the country of origin, such as Brazilian Hair Straightening or Brazilian Blowout.And even if the formaldehyde and keratin-based chemical solution continues to gain more and more followers abroad, it will not enjoy the startling level of popularity it enjoys around here anytime soon. It is true that soon after the launch of this hair straightening technique, the Brazilian government prohibited the use of formaldehyde in capillary treatments.But those who know Brazil also know that unfortunately the precarious and corrupt state of the local public inspection system does not allow me to write, "Today, Brazilian Hair Straightening no longer uses formaldehyde." The correct commentary is actually: "Today, the Brazilian Hair Straightening technique officially no longer uses formaldehyde."

And the effect of the search for perfectly straight hair has not been solely restricted to hairdressers. Supermarket shelves and pharmacies have not gone unscathed and they have recently been invaded by a new category of product: Treatment kits. These have been showing exponential growth rates since 2005, reaching 80% per year. In reality, they are a little disappointing when examined closely since they do not exactly constitute any innovation in terms of product. Quite the contrary, they are generally comprised of products already for sale separately (shampoo, conditioner and some keratin-based finisher). Indeed, the great novelty lies in how it is presented, because the products are didactically numbered in the correct sequence of use and presented as part of a Treatment.Yes,Treatment with a capital letter--a more professional and complete solution for hair.And, l almost forgot, guess which benefit most of them offer? That's right. Maintenance for Brazilian Hair Straightening.

So, if you want to give a friend a gift of a typical Brazilian product, forget about cachaca or a National Team jersey. Nowadays, nothing will be better than the Post Brazilian Hair Straightening Treatment Kit.

Written by Gustavo Piqueira, Casa Rex

About the Author

Gustavo Piqueira heads up Casa Rex, a design agency with offices in Sao Paulo and London, which serves clients such as Unilever, to smaller organizations. Piqueira has won many Brazilian and international design awards. More info:
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Title Annotation:BrazilianBEAUTY
Author:Piqueira, Gustavo
Publication:Beauty Packaging
Geographic Code:3BRAZ
Date:Apr 1, 2011
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